P.S. 40 George W. Carver
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Rising enrollment and test scores
High rates of chronic absenteeism
PS 40 in Bedford Stuyvesant offers lots of clubs and activities to keep kids engaged, including chess, swimming lessons, music and art. It has large, sunny classrooms and a warm environment.
While many of the schools in the neighborhood are suffering from declining enrollment and poor academic performance, PS 40 has seen its enrollment and test scores rise in recent years. Principal Louise Antoine, who was a math administrator in high-performing District 26 in Queens, is popular with children and staff. Born in the West Indies, she attended Brooklyn public schools, including Philippa Schuyler Middle School, Brooklyn Tech, and Brooklyn College.
PS 40 offers classes for 3 year olds, called “3-K,” and a dual language program, starting in Pre-K, designed to teach children Spanish and English. Some children learn geography and phrases in Mandarin through a live Internet connection to a teacher in Beijing.
Antoine has encouraged teachers to adopt an eclectic approach to teaching reading and math. Rather than relying on one set of textbooks, teachers draw from various programs according to what works best for each student. Fourth and 5th graders have specialized teachers for math and reading, rather than one teacher for all academic subjects, as is common in elementary school.
The majority of the pupils are African American, but some are newcomers from Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico and Yemen.
The school has high rates of chronic absenteeism. Some children live in homeless shelters far from the school, making it difficult to get to school on time, but Antoine says attendance is also a challenge for some children who live close by. To address this, each child who is frequently absent is assigned a “mentor” (an aide, the parent coordinator, or an attendance teacher) who will check in frequently to better understand what’s causing the problem and what solutions might be. In addition the school is organizing a “walking school bus”—adults walking through the neighborhood to pick children up.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 40 offers two “self-contained” classes, one for grades K-2, the other for grades 3-5, for special needs children.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. Tours arranged by request. (Clara Hemphill, October 2019)